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Implementing New Content Marketing Tech: 4 Things You Need to Know
Implementing New Content Marketing Tech: 4 Things You Need to Know

You’ve seen the last pitch presentation, signed the deal, toasted with the sales rep to a long and fruitful relationship and you finally have a new content marketing platform to work with. Let’s get going! Right? Not so fast.

It’s one thing to select a new content marketing technology, and a completely different thing to get that technology up, running and humming in service of your marketing aspirations.

You may have heard those quotes that say something like the idea is only 1% of the overall success of a project and 99% is in the execution. Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to implementing a new technology in your business.

I’ve been involved in a few of these implementations in my career and, most notably, I’ve had two hot mess style train wrecks of implementations as well. Those were doozies and, out of the implementations I worked on, they taught me the most about what the actual realities of getting a marketing platform up and running entailed. I’m going to share some of these lessons in the hopes you might avoid the stress eating and many sleepless nights in a row (because, believe me, there were a few of those!).

The four elements of a great implementation

Who’s in charge?

The first and, in hindsight, perhaps the most underestimated thing I’ve learned is that it’s critical to appoint a project manager. This is someone who works in your organisation (or is seconded in) and is familiar enough with the tech, but also in very close contact with the end users of the platform you’re implementing. They will have accountability for the whole process and are responsible for keeping things on track.

In both cases where I was involved in train wreck implementations, we had someone from the software company that built the tech also in charge of the project. They’re the product experts, right? What could go wrong? When it comes to implementation, it’s not the product that is being tested, but rather your organisation, the teams involved and the underlying processes. So, your project manager needs to be most familiar with all that as a matter of priority.

Testing, learning, failing, repeating, testing again.

Extensive testing by your end users is critical to getting the implementation right and understanding the gaps in knowledge your team might have (we’ll talk about training in a minute). If you can’t get your end users to be testing at regular intervals, document all the key use cases they might have and base your testing on that.

At best, this process enables your end users to become so familiar with the platform that they can begin to design workflows, templates and ways of working, at least in principle, all by themselves. At the very least, they’re going to already know where all the important buttons are and that’s going to save a bunch of time when it comes to, you guessed it, training.

Train like a pro.

Training is often an afterthought of these projects and, honestly, fair enough. The major effort goes into standing up the platform and getting it ready to cut the ribbon and open the doors on day one. However, a staged training plan informed by the needs of the business should form part of every implementation because, without it, users won’t know how to use the shiny new toy.

On one particular implementation, we had a training manager work with us from early on and they put together a comprehensive program for all end users. This wasn’t a three-month intensive on how to use the platform, but it did take into consideration the fact that users would need to come to grips with the basics of the tech immediately and could then build up knowledge slowly over a number of months. This kind of approach is best practice and keeps your users engaged and doesn’t overwhelm them too early on.

Get ready to play snakes and ladders.

The final major thing I’ve learned while working as part of these implementations is to prepare for both opportunities and setbacks. A number of times, the team I was working on was able to unblock a bunch of steps with only one or two key actions, shaving days or weeks off the timeline. The opposite also happened where we hit weeks-long roadblocks that could only be solved with time-consuming workarounds.

The key, in my opinion, is to make sure you have access to standby resourcing. Whether that’s hiring freelancers for a short period of time, or accessing other team members in your organisation. If you have a massive challenge, you can often speed up the resolution by getting more people with the right skills onto the problem. Likewise, an unexpected time saver might give you the ability to jump on something else quicker than you had planned and it pays to have the right talent ready to capitalise on that.

Whatever tech you choose and whatever size organisation you work at, keep in mind that the implementation process is not about how good or bad the technology is. This is a project that allows you to identify and make the most of new opportunities that the technology might unlock. A little planning goes a long way to grab those opportunities and make the tech work for you, not the other way around.

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